You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
If I believe that Jesus actually said the words above, and believe that he meant them and that He was telling the truth, then I have some things to think about. We all do,actually.
Anyone who knows me remotely well knows that I am anti-war. I believe it is a complete hypocrisy that people call the United States a Christian country while we are warmongering gun idolators. In my mind, a truly Christian country would have extended an olive branch after 911, seeking reconciliation. To those who argue that we had to “defend ourselves,” what we did was not self defense, it was retaliation and political opportunism. Self defense is more along the lines of the increased airport security we implemented. Anyway, that is beside the point when your defense is the Most High who created the amazing universe.
But I really shouldn’t be worried about what the nation or, in fact, what anyone else is doing. The focus right now needs to be getting the darn log out of my own eye.
What I am concerned with is digging the roots of bitterness and hatred out of my own heart. Change starts with me, right? In ourselves, in our families. Then our communities, then our nation, and then the world.
Who among us doesn’t harbor animosity toward another person? You know, the kind where if you read on Facebook that they got a bad haircut or gained 50 pounds, you wouldn’t be exactly sorry. Who hasn’t sat ruminating about the unkind words another person has said to them? Or talked about how messed up another person’s attitude and behavior is?
The thing is, we’re not supposed to do that.
At all. I don’t see any exceptions. Jesus never says, “Love your enemy except when they talk trash about you.” He doesn’t even provide an exception for when the enemy murders your entire family. Or invades your nation. Nope. He says, “Be perfect.”
It’s all well and good for us to talk about the atrocities that ISIS is committing, for example. Once again, someone has provided a convenient way for us to get the focus off of ourselves and onto a “bigger” sinner. We don’t get to do that, though. Jesus says, Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” Not just ISIS. He means me when I think hateful thoughts about someone who hurt my feelings or behaves in a manner that I don’t agree with.
Jesus knows the nature of reality. In the spiritual world, there is little (if any?) difference between murdering someone physically and murdering them in your spirit with your thoughts and words. Our entire universe is constructed of energy, and thoughts and words have their own energy. They are REAL. We must not hate or entertain the demons of hate.
We should pray for ISIS. We should say a quick prayer for the harried person who cut us off in traffic. For the friend who betrayed us. For the parent who didn’t meet our needs. For the husband who cheated. Everyone.
If we truly believe in prayer, how could we doubt for even one second that it’s more effective than bombs or any of the other fallout from hatred?